to the heights of zhangjiajie by way of the bailong elevator

Sunday, January 25:  The forecast for today is as bad as it was yesterday, but as it’s our last day here, we’ve hired a guide to make sure we see the best of what there is to see in the shortest amount of time.  She meets us at our hotel at 10:00 and we head by taxi to the entrance to the park and then directly by the park bus to the Bailong Elevator, which will take us to the heights of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.

me on the platform of the Bailong Elevator

me on the platform of the Bailong Elevator

According to Prafulla.net:‘The Bailong Elevator’ at Zhangjiajie National Park, China : The Highest and Heaviest Outdoor Elevator in the World:  Zhangjiajie Bailong Elevator (Chinese百龙天梯) is a glass elevator built on the side of a huge rock in the Wulingyuan Scenic Reserve in Zhangjiajie, China.  It is 1070 ft (330m) high and claimed to be the world’s tallest glass elevator.

It is the highest outdoor elevator in the world and it has three Guinness World Records: 1) World’s tallest full-exposure outdoor elevator; 2) World’s tallest double-deck sightseeing elevator and 3) World’s fastest passenger traffic elevator with biggest carrying capacity.

However, due to the potential harm caused to the surrounding landscape, its future remains uncertain.

Views of our surroundings from the bottom of the Bailong Elevator

Views of our surroundings from the bottom of the Bailong Elevator

According to Top China Travel.com: Bailong Elevator: Bailong Elevator, or Hundred Dragons Elevator, includes three exposure sightseeing elevators running parallel to one another. Each elevator can take 50 passengers every time and the speed is 3 m/s. If the three elevators run simultaneously, the amount of one-way passengers can reach 4,000 per hour.

The Bailong Elevator allows people to “go sightseeing up the mountain during the day,” and return to the bottom by nightfall.  So it provides convenience in transportation for visitors.  Moreover, passengers can access amazing scenery on the elevator, including the World Bridge of Yuanjiajie, Wulong village and Yangjiajie. The elevator integrates Mount Tianzi, Yuanjiajie, and Jinbian Stream as a single entity, solving traffic bottleneck problems in this scenic spot.

Sadly, I don’t take a picture of the elevator to show here, because I actually think it’s quite ugly.  You can see the actual elevator on one of the links above.

View from the deck of the Bailong Elevator

View from the deck of the Bailong Elevator

Prior to the elevator’s opening in 2002, it took visitors more than three hours to drive on dangerous mountain roads to Yuanjiajie.  It took more than five hours if you drove from the foot of mountain to Yuanjiajie scenic spot. Since Bailong Elevator has been accessible to visitors, the time has shortened to one minute and 58 seconds, which is considered to be a miracle.

We pay a lot of money to be whisked quickly up the elevator to the walkways built along the heights of the National Park.  The fog is so thick today you could stir it with a spoon, but as morning fog usually yields to clear skies later in the day, I figure it will get better as the day progresses.  I am dead wrong.

At the top of the elevator, the walkway begins

At the top of the elevator, the walkway begins

Our guide Kathy is one of the ethnic minority people who lives in the area (I can’t remember which minority).  At the top of the mountain she sings us a native song.  I would put my video on YouTube and link to it here, but YouTube is nearly impossible to use in China. Maybe when I return to the USA, I’ll be able to post it.  I’m sure she’s thrilled to be taking people on a tour here on this dreary and cold day.

Our cute guide

Our cute guide

We get some glimpses of the park’s pinnacles early on.

first glimpses from the top...

first glimpses from the top…

...and that's all they are: glimpses

…and that’s all they are: glimpses

But as we continue to walk, the fog gets thicker and thicker.  We get to a spot that shows a placard of the Avatar Mountain.  This is what we see:

The Avatar Mountain

The Avatar Mountain

I’m not kidding.  We can’t even see the outline of the famous mountain that looks so pretty on the placard.  I honestly want to cry.  I am so frustrated that this fog won’t allow us even a glimpse of some of the beautiful mountains here.

We do get so see scores of monkeys climbing over the trees and the walkways and the railings.  One of them even jumps on a girl’s backpack as she’s walking and tries to take some food from her.  She screeches, as I suppose I would do too if a monkey jumped on my back!

We continue on the walk and I feel increasingly depressed and frustrated.  I have so looked forward to coming to this place.  I’ve dreamed of having wonderful pictures to share, but all I can see is fog.  In some spots, the wind is blowing and the fog looks more wispy than in other places.  I stand in those areas for a long time, determined to wait until the wind blogs the fog away, if even for a split second, so I can see the mountains.  Here’s a gallery of some of what I see, but it isn’t much.

There are a couple of better views along the way as the fog does clear intermittently.

a few peeks of a few peaks

a few peeks of a few peaks

some slightly clearer views

some slightly clearer views

more slightly clear views

more slightly clear views

We continue on until we come to the No. 1 Bridge in the Earth.  A stone near the bridge says: This natural bridge connects the natural moat with a span of 50 meters, a height of 350 meters, a width of 4 meters, and a thickness of 5 meters.  When sunny, the bridge opening is obviously seen, when rainy the fog drifts in with sounds.

The No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

The No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

I’m trying to smile, but you can see it’s difficult.  I really want to cry and feel like I’m on the verge of doing so.  Can you tell?

me at the No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

me at the No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

Looking down

Looking down

The No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

The No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

The No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

The No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

Locks on the bridge

Locks on the bridge

a few more glimpses from the bridge

a few more glimpses from the bridge

fleeting sights along the bridge

fleeting sights along the bridge

looking into the depths

looking into the depths

View from No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

View from No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

More locks on the bridge

More locks on the bridge

On the bridge with the Chinese tourists

Mike on the bridge with the Chinese tourists

Mike and I on No. 1 Bridge

Mike and I on No. 1 Bridge

We look out on the opposite side of the No. 1 Bridge in the Earth, and we can barely see some of the pinnacles on the other side.

After our walk, we walk to another mountain, where I stand on the edge of a steep precipice.

Me on edge

Me on edge

Finally, we make it to a lunch place where we order my usual Chinese dishes of salty green beans sautéed with hot peppers and scrambled eggs with tomato.

Lunchtime!

Lunchtime!

Our guide tries to take us to an old village on the mountain.  We start to go in, but when she tells us we have to pay another entry fee, we decline.  I’m too depressed to go further.  Every bit of this trip has cost us a fortune, from hiring the guide, to paying the fee to go up the elevator to coming back down the elevator.  The fees are endless at this place.

the entry to the village that we don't go into

the entry to the village that we don’t go into

outside of the village

outside of the village

As we’re returning to take the elevator back down, we come to this statue of Marshal He Long.  A group of Chinese businessmen are milling about and posing with the statue.

He Long was a Chinese military leader who lived from March 22, 1896 – June 8, 1969. He was from a poor rural family of the Tujia ethnic group in Hunan, and his family was not able to provide him with any formal education. He began his revolutionary career after avenging the death of his uncle, when he fled to become an outlaw and attracted a small personal army around him.  You can read more about him here: Long March Leaders: Marshal He Long.

Statue of Marshal He Long

Statue of Marshal He Long

As we leave through the visitor’s center, we see these gorgeous photos of the park.  Here’s what Zhangjiajie should look like on a nicer day.

This is what Zhangjiajie SHOULD look like!

This is what Zhangjiajie SHOULD look like!

What I wish I'd seen

What I wish I’d seen

Unless I someday make it back to the park, what I saw today is all I will ever see.  Sadly, this will be my memory of the park: a mere suggestion of what it really is.

Last views of the park from the Bailong Elevator platform

Last views of the park from the Bailong Elevator platform

final view of Zhangjiajie

final view of Zhangjiajie

We take the park bus back to the entrance, where the bus driver is much more careful and slow-moving than yesterday’s driver, who careened around the many curvy cliffside roads to return us to earth.

Back at our hotel. we rest awhile before going to a Chinese acrobatic and dance show at a venue next to our hotel.  More about that in another post.  🙂

 

 

 

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Categories: Asia, Avatar Mountain, Bailong Elevator, China, Hunan, Marshal He Long statue, Travel, Wulingyuan Scenic Reserve, Zhangjiajie, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park | Tags: , , , , , , | 36 Comments

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36 thoughts on “to the heights of zhangjiajie by way of the bailong elevator

  1. Oh my! While this was definitely unfortunate to be so fogged in, I have to say you had me chuckling. One of your photos reminded me of a postcard I ince bought of Seattle which said “Summer Day in Seattle;Winter Day in Seattle” and all it showed was different shades of gray. Nonetheless, what an amazing experience you and Mike have to remember for a long time to come! And the elevator may not always be there, so at least you got to experience tha, too! Thanks for the pictures of the pictures. Looks amazing!!

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    • Haha, I love your description of the postcard from Seattle, Vivian. It definitely sounds like my day in Zhangjiajie. 🙂 It was such a disappointment. I really would love to go back when the weather is forecast to be good, but it’s quite an ordeal to get there, and I’m not sure I could pull it off in a weekend, which is all I have between now and when I leave China. It still was a great thing to travel with Mike so he could get a feel for the life I’m living here in China. It’s just too bad he came all the way to the other side of the world for such abysmal weather.

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  2. Wow, what amazing landscapes, it’s like something out of a fantasy novel only it’s not fantasy at all! Awesome photos, the fog gives the landscape a lovely mystique.

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    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Joe. Thanks too for dropping by and for commenting. I’ll have to pop over and visit you too. The fog does give it a certain mystique, but I think a little less fog, more wispy perhaps, might have given it an even more ethereal feel. 🙂

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  3. What a shame that you had so much fog. I think I would have felt like crying too.

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    • Thanks Elaine, for your words of sympathy. As you could tell from one of my photos, perhaps, I really was on the verge of crying. Maybe I even did cry a bit. 😦 🙂

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  4. Well I think you got a couple of terrific atmospheric shots there and at least you know you have been so you’ll have lots of memories of the experience to look back on in the future. Despite the poor weather there are a lot of people in your photos – I think I’d get tired of being with so many people, I hate crowds. And they have gone mental with the locks! Hope they don’t bring that bridge down like the one in Paris – it would be devastating there with those drops.
    I hope the rest of your trip is a bit sunnier – what time of year is best to visit this region then?

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    • You’d get tired of being in China in general, Jude, because there are lots of people wherever you go. There is no escaping it. And as this was off-season, there were fewer people than normal. Yes, if the locks brought that bridge down, that would be a disaster of major proportions, especially at those heights.

      Poor Mike. He came all the way around the world to China, and had miserable weather all but two days of his holiday. I don’t think he’d be keen to come to China again. Soon after he left, Alex arrived and we went to Yunnan province, where we had perfect blue skies and crisp air for two weeks. I also had nice hot weather in Myanmar. I felt so bad for Mike that his whole holiday was ruined, although he did think it an interesting experience being in China. As for Guangxi province, so far it seems the fall was the best time to visit, possibly October and November. But I can’t speak from experience as I don’t yet know what spring will be like. So far, since I returned here to Nanning, it’s been nothing but rain every day. 😦

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      • Well, you know me and my thought about China, which is why I am so curious to see it through your eyes. Nothing you have said or done yet has made me change my mind; interesting though it is.

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      • Wait till you see my posts about Yunnan province. Despite the crowds which were everywhere, it was still lovely. 🙂 It’s not really ALL bad. xxx

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      • Oh, I admit there are some amazing landscapes. Which I am depending on you to show me 🙂

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      • I promise you’ll see some, Jude. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Aww i’m sorry, if it had been me i would have had a real paddy!

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  6. Sorry about the fog – but it still looks fascinating! Except for the monkeys – they remind me one of the ones in Gibraltar – not a fan. 😉

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    • I was reminded of those crazy Gibraltar monkeys, too, Lynda!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your sympathetic words, Lynda. It was fascinating, what I could see of it! I wasn’t a fan of the monkeys either. They kind of scare me, looking like they’re going to attack for food at any time. They did jump on one girl’s back and she screamed. I would have done the same!

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  7. The fog shrouded pictures are actually quite lovely. I understand your frustration though with spending all that money and effort to have it fizzle so badly (at least you didn’t cry for the camera!). We had that several years ago when we went to Maine. I get so little vacation and it rained nearly all the time. Most everything in this post was taken with an umbrella over me. My husband had rain gear, so that picture you see of him he’s getting drenched, including his equpment. I did not have rainproof anything, including my camera.

    http://livingtheseasons.com/2013/06/13/acadia-national-park/

    Do you think all those fees were normal or were they part of “you’re not Chinese”? Just curious.

    Nancy

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    • It was a struggle not to cry for the camera, Nancy! But I managed to control myself; if I hadn’t I don’t think I’d show anyone the pictures anyway! 🙂 I’ll check out your rainy Maine post after I comment here. I think some of the fees are “You’re not Chinese,” but some of them apply to everyone. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What a big disappointment for you Cathy, I must say you do look as though you are gritting your teeth in the bridge photo. Some of your photos do give a glimmer of how it would look on a fine day, but seeing the photos on a fine day would increase the frustration level…

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  9. I can feel your anguish, Cathy! 😦 I’d have been kicking tree stumps (and maybe the poor guide 🙂 ) Some of the shots off the bridge and down through the gullies do show off the atmosphere, but that’s life, isn’t it? Careful what you wish for 😦
    4 months left! Heck- where’s it gone? But some of it must feel interminable. Adventure of a lifetime, Cathy! Where next, I wonder? Sweet Virginia is going to feel even more strange, but I think you’ll be grateful to be back (for a while). Hugs, darlin’! I’m off to sort the washing, etc 😦

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    • I almost wanted to hurl myself over the cliffs, Jo!! The worst part was knowing there was absolutely nothing we could do. We even looked at the forecast ahead to see if it might get better (we could have cancelled our plans to Yangshuo which had an equally dreary forecast), but it was forecast to be rainy, foggy and cold for at least the next 10 days. It was a real disappointment.

      I know, I can’t now believe that I only have 4 months left. That 6-week holiday really made the time speed past! It’s not that bad here really, just lonely because I don’t have a really good pal. Nobody like Mario in this picture. He, and Tahira, Anna and Kathy, made everything in Oman extra special. You don’t find those kinds of friends often. I will be happy to be back in Virginia for a while and who knows if I’ll go anywhere else. I might like to do a short stint at volunteering somewhere. But for the fall and the holidays, I want to be home. 🙂 Hope you have fun sorting your laundry!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Awww. I’m sorry about the fog. I know how it is to have one shot (so to speak) at a place, and not be able to see it or get what you hoped to get out of it. Even with the fog, your shots are beautiful.

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    • Thanks, Robin. There’s nothing that can be done about it now; I’m actually glad to be finished posting about that part of our trip as those pictures really depressed me. 🙂

      Like

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